UX Best Practices: Tips for Creating and Displaying Content for Hurried Visitors

Website visitors don't read, they jump

Website visitors don’t read every single word on a website. Instead, they jump around content and pages, looking for clues that indicate they are getting closer to their goal. Xerox PARC researchers referred to this as searching for “information scent.”

Because of this, it’s important to craft copy that will ensure website visitors understand your message and see a clear path forward to accomplishing their goals. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re creating content and deciding how to display it:

  • Website visitors are jumping around from one piece of content to another, following their “information scent” trail, they will skip over a lot of information. Because they will often land on visually prominent content like headings, subheadings, and calls-to-action, it’s critically important that the first few words of this content communicates your message. Users may not read the rest of the sentence, let alone the paragraph.

  • Calls-to-action should be specific and literal. If users can’t quickly understand where the call-to-action will take them, they are less likely to click or tap on it.

  • In usability studies, we often see users scroll quickly up and down a web page, using the top and bottom of the page as anchors. Because of this behavior, the navigation items and copy at the top and bottom of each page should be carefully chosen and organized based on user research. If the menu items or other copy don’t align with how users think about and look for information, they are more likely to abandon their task.

We discuss UX best practices in our UX Strategy for Successful Digital Experiences workshop. Check out all of our corporate workshops.